Early Weaning?

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southernultrablack
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Early Weaning?

Postby southernultrablack » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:12 pm

I started weaning a small group of calves Saturday. They are around 4 months old. They are getting about 1# of 18% calf starter/head/day, all the grass hay they can eat and are on a dry lot. My concern is that one in particular has very loose stool. Still making a patty, sort of, but any looser and it probably wouldn't be. Should I be concerned yet? I've never early weaned a group like this before.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby MRRherefords » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:22 pm

If they have not been on any feed yet and this is their first time, I would not worry at all.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby dun » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:51 pm

Rather then just pounds of feed, calculate percentage of body weight. Start with 1% of body weight and gradually ramp them up to 1 1/2 - 2 percent of their body weight. Keep that ration as they grow and add pounds.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby southernultrablack » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:10 pm

MRRherefords wrote:If they have not been on any feed yet and this is their first time, I would not worry at all.

This is their first time on feed.

dun wrote:Rather then just pounds of feed, calculate percentage of body weight. Start with 1% of body weight and gradually ramp them up to 1 1/2 - 2 percent of their body weight. Keep that ration as they grow and add pounds.

I did intend on increasing their feed but was gonna do it slowly. Would you go ahead and go to the 1% now? It would be around 3 to 4# each/day.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby farmerjan » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:17 pm

Was there a specific reason to wean early? Cows poor, drought conditions earlier...? I would also think possibility of worms causing a loose stool.
Dun is right, should be getting 1% of body weight to start in grain or protein, and up to 2% in order to grow. Also consider coccidiosis. Common in calves, can definitely cause loose manure and can make them sick. Had a problem with it once and I always consider that too. Weaning is a stress situation and every kind of "bug" can just jump right in and cause havoc to their gut tract in stress situations.

I would up the grain slowly but you don't want them to go backwards too much so upping it will help.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby jerry27150 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:40 pm

have they had their respiratory shots?
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby southernultrablack » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:46 pm

farmerjan wrote:Was there a specific reason to wean early? Cows poor, drought conditions earlier...? I would also think possibility of worms causing a loose stool.
Dun is right, should be getting 1% of body weight to start in grain or protein, and up to 2% in order to grow. Also consider coccidiosis. Common in calves, can definitely cause loose manure and can make them sick. Had a problem with it once and I always consider that too. Weaning is a stress situation and every kind of "bug" can just jump right in and cause havoc to their gut tract in stress situations.

I would up the grain slowly but you don't want them to go backwards too much so upping it will help.

These are off of first calvers and a couple of the dams were a little poorer than I liked. My pastures are a work in progress,and we were in a terrible drought last summer, so that didn't help. I've not given any shots yet. Will be moving them in a couple weeks and had planned on vaccinating them then. The pen they are in now is inside the pasture where their dams are, so I'm fence line weaning I guess.heres a couple pics.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:39 am

Calves look good, especially from heifers. You should always wait 7 days to increase their feed (after the initial 1% of body weight). It take 7 days for the good bugs to change over to their new feed.
In the future, you really, really should make sure you get the shots in the calves BEFORE stressing them like weaning. And if you use a killed vaccine, be sure you get the 2nd shot in them timely and also before weaning.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby farmerjan » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:30 am

Calves do look good. Next time, rather than early weaning, have you considered creep feeding for a month? I am not a big proponent of creep feeding. BUT, with first calf heifers, I do offer some feed to calves in a catch pen that has a creep gate that they can fit through and mommas can't. Surprising how quick they learn to go in when they see me as they are getting a treat. It gets them used to being around me some, and then when I want to catch them up, it is easy to get them in & caught up. Plus by supplementing them, they don't seem to pull the heifers down as much, maybe because they are not requiring them to supply all their nutritional needs?

The creep feeding also gets them used to some feed so that they don't go "off feed" when they are finally weaned. In the process of creep feeding them, and I am talking about 1-2 lbs of feed per head 3 or 4 times a week, not kept in front of them as a true creep feeder, I also give the heifers a couple of 5 gal buckets of feed which ups their protein and gives them a little boost. This is usually about the 3-5 month stage....if they are looking thin. Mostly I don't grain much. But it keeps them coming to call when I want them and it gives me a chance to look them over real good. We usually calve out 10-15 heifers at a time.

I have found that by waiting to calve them a little older, 28-32 months, the heifers are much better able to handle the calving and raising of their calf without alot of extra input. We want grass genetic cattle, not supplemental feed genetic cattle. Also, by the time the calves are 4-6 months, the heifers are bred back, and the calves are eating good and weaning seems to go smooth.

When we calve in say March, the bulls go in at 60 days or mid-May. The grass is growing good, the calves are looking good. They get bred before the calf really starts to pull on them and are weaned in Sept-Oct. The heifers still have 4-6 months of dry period before calving again and in all but a very few odd cases, have gained back their condition and getting in good shape to calve again.

The fall calving heifers do seem to lose more condition, but that is when I will give them a little feed a couple of times a week. And even though many feel they are expensive, we do keep a protein supplement tub in with the fall calving heifers, so they can supplement themselves as their body requires. Aug-Sept calving heifers again get 60 days, bulls in by mid Nov. and calves come off in March-April and they still have at least 4 months dry time. Only once in awhile will one not gain back and they usually are always ones that don't keep weight on or are slow breeders. We are slowly thinning/culling them all out. I want girls that stay "fat and sassy" without alot of extras.

This is just what works for us. We go many seminars, pasture walks, meetings and try to listen to what others are doing and adapt it to our operation if we feel it might help. Tried alot of stuff, some works, some doesn't.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby Dogs and Cows » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:49 am

Calves look great!! There is great advice in this thread!

Tim
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby southernultrablack » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:13 pm

Thanks everyone for the input!
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby southernultrablack » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:34 am

Just thought I would update with a couple pics. Calves have been weaned 3 weeks today and are getting fed about 2% of body weight per day.
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Re: Early Weaning?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:54 am

Calves look really good.
FarmerJan gives great advice and I generally agree with what she does & what she recommends.
I am a strong proponent of calving heifers out at 2 years old. Time is money. By supplementing them after weaning thru breeding with 5# of shell corn/head/day and free-choice baleage & mineral, they reach puberty and breed early (with our cold winters). If you do not have the ability to provide proper nutrition for them to reach puberty, then, yes, you might be better off holding them to an older age so that they have the size they need to calve.
I feed my heifers for about 8 months, that's about 1200# of corn at $160/ton = $96 investment in each heifer (minus the value of baleage they don't have to consume). Well worth it in my books.
Besides, research reported 2 year olds have less dystocia then 3 year olds due to calcification of the pelvic area as they get older (bred to same bulls & heifers in same BCS I would assume).
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